Center Offers Staff Help for Living

January 17, 2004

Mary Ann Travis
Phone: (504) 865-5714

You may have noticed the proliferation of slower gaits and slightly more gray around the temples. And it's no wonder. Tulane has many long-term employees, and they are showing signs of aging.

currie"We don't have a lot of turnover," says Frank Currie, director of staff development and training, including the Center for Workforce Effectiveness.

The center's latest program--"The Graying of America"--aims to offer insight and advice about aging issues. The three-part series was presented on the downtown campus earlier this fall and is offered in December on the uptown campus.

Sara Bork, coordinator of the center, is not in the aging group--she's only 23 and has been a staff member for only a few months. But she says the program could be beneficial to anyone.

Topics include "The Mid-Life Quest," "How to Best Take Care of Your Aging Parents" and "Reviewing Different Generations at Work." Tulane committed funds for the Center for Workforce Effectiveness three years ago, offering a diversity of classes each month. The center's mission and activities are supported by the university administration, and staff members are encouraged to participate. The most popular classes teach job-proficiency skills, says Currie.

These include computer courses, ranging in content from beginning skills to designing a website, to learning specific software programs. Other classes focus on English grammar and speed reading. These courses are designed to help employees develop skills to use in their current jobs or in other jobs, if they wish to change careers.

The center's life-skills courses address topics such as time and stress management, wellness, including healthy diet and exercise, and now aging. These "soft-skills" are just as important as technical proficiency, says Currie. After working almost three decades at Tulane in human resources, Currie knows that employee effectiveness requires more than mere competency.

"Life skills play a significant part in how you work. If you're worried about Mama or your child or your health, you may be proficient at what you're doing but unable to totally focus on your work."

Currie often hears from concerned supervisors whose employees are overly stressed and consequently not performing well. And for troubled employees who may need intense, short-term help, Tulane offers one-on-one counseling resources at no cost through the Employee Assistance Program. Sometimes, though, all that's needed is for employees to know that they are not alone with their problems. That's where the center's life-skills courses are particularly valuable.

"We can say to the employee," says Currie, "things that are going on in your life are not unique. A lot of people have shared the same experiences. You may think you're the only person who's dealing with it. We as an employer care about you, and we're providing resources for free."

To register for any of the center's courses--or to suggest a new topic--go to the Center for Workforce Effectiveness' website at or call Sara Bork at 247-1720. "The Graying of America," series on the uptown campus is Dec. 3, 10 and 17, from 12 noon to 1 p.m.

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Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000